Prevention is a key element in women’s health. There are times when it may not be possible to completely avoid an illness or condition. When this happens, early detection is the next best thing.
Women should be proactive about their wellness. That means monitoring for changes that could indicate a problem.
Every woman should undergo recommended health screenings. Many are annual, but some may vary. The ideal screening schedule will depend on your health status, existing conditions, and risk factors. Your doctor may suggest more frequent screenings or additional tests based on your history.
Complete Women’s Healthcare encourages all patients to stick to their screening schedule. The following list outlines the tests that most women should schedule this year. You should speak to your doctor to confirm that these are the best for you and to find out if you need any additional screenings.
Mammograms are a necessary part of any woman’s healthcare routine. Since the 1990s, this screening has saved an estimated 384,000 to 614,500 lives. That amounts to as many as 125 lives saved every day since 2018. Sadly, only about half of women over age 40 get their mammograms.
A mammogram is a breast cancer screening. An X-ray image is taken to look for early signs of cancer. It is the best method we have right now to check for breast cancer. In some cases, a mammogram can catch cancer up to three years before it is felt.
It’s important to know what women can do now to lower their cancer risk so they can increase longevity and prevent a serious health scare later.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 13,960 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and around 4,310 women will die from cervical cancer this year. There was a time when this condition ranked among the most common causes of cancer death in women in the United States.
However, that has changed thanks to the introduction of the Pap smear. This screening looks for changes in the cervix before cancer appears. It can also detect cancer earlier when it is more treatable and less life-threatening.
Women between the ages of 35 and 44 are the most frequently diagnosed with cervical cancer. The average age is 50, so this is a screening that all adult women should have.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a pap smear once every three years. Women over age 30 who have had normal test results each year for the previous three years can also switch to a three-year schedule.
Pap smears are important for all adult women, including those who have not had sex. This routine screening could save your life.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) aren’t always obvious. The risk goes up every time a person has unprotected intercourse. Not using a barrier method can transmit gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis.
Women under age 25 who are sexually active should schedule a chlamydia and gonorrhea test annually. Women over age 25 who have risk factors should also be tested. Risk factors include:
- Multiple sex partners
- New sex partner
- Sex partner with a known STD
STDs can appear in bloodwork results however this test isn’t usually included in standard blood panels. Do not assume that because you had routine bloodwork you are clear. Directly ask your doctor about testing for STDs.
Ignoring an STD can lead to serious health complications like infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, or even cervical cancer. Pregnant women should be aware that an STD can cause a congenital infection in babies.
Diabetes is a common condition and one that many people don’t know that they have. Around 37.3 million Americans, or one in 10, have it. However, one in five do not know that they have diabetes.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force advises adults who are 40 to 70 years old who are overweight to undergo screenings for type 2 diabetes and abnormal blood glucose. This should be done once every three years if previous years had normal results.
Your doctor may advise you to have a diabetes screening more often if you have additional risk factors.
Blood Pressure Screening
A blood pressure screening measures pressure in the arteries. This helps your doctor determine if there are blockages or heart concerns. Women under age 18 with no heart disease risk factors should be tested at least once per two to five years. Adults over age 40 should be tested annually.
Your doctor will advise you if you should be tested more often due to risk factors.
Blood pressure tests are one of the most well-known procedures doctors perform. An inflatable cuff is placed on the arm. It inflates to tighten and gauge blood pressure. It takes very little time and is usually done during routine check-ups.
Scheduling your next exam is a great thing to do this season. Stay on schedule and try these 10 summer health tips for women to get healthier and stay active.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 86 million adults in the U.S. between 2017 and 2020 had high or borderline high cholesterol. This condition doesn’t come with symptoms, so it is easy to miss without regular screenings.
Most healthy adults should undergo a cholesterol screening once every four to six years. Screenings should also be done for people who:
- Have family history of high cholesterol
- Have high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Have heart disease
Cholesterol screenings involve a simple blood test. The results will measure low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
A colonoscopy is used to screen for colorectal cancer. This type is the third most diagnosed in adults in the United States. The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be 106,970 new cases of colon cancer and 46,050 new cases of rectal cancer this year.
The overall lifetime risk of colorectal cancer for women is one in 26. However, history and health factors can increase individual risk.
A colonoscopy is more involved than other types of screenings. A doctor inserts a flexible tube with a light and camera attached into the anus to view the rectum and colon. The procedure usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes and the patient is usually sedated.
Adults over age 45 who are healthy with no family history or symptoms should schedule a colonoscopy once every seven to 10 years.
An annual blood test is usually recommended to check for changes in your body. This can be done during your yearly physical exam. A basic screening may include:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) – Checks red and white blood cells and platelets. Results can show if heart disease, anemia, leukemia, autoimmune disease, or cancer is present.
- Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) – Checks function of lungs and kidneys as well as blood sugar levels and electrolyte levels. This test can reveal if there are problems in the lungs or kidneys or if the patient is pre-diabetic.
- Complete Metabolic Panel – Includes the same screenings as those covered by the BMP panel but adds liver function.
- Lipid Panel – Checks for triglycerides and cholesterol, and can detect plaque buildup in arteries.
Skin Cancer Check
The American Cancer Society says that around 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed annually in the United States. Approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer before they are 70 years old. Having five or more sunburns doubles your melanoma risk.
The good news is that early detection increases the five-year survival rate to 99%. That’s why regular skin cancer screenings are so important. You can perform a self-exam by looking for anything abnormal on the skin.
Your doctor can also perform a clinical examination. During this screening, a doctor or nurse will look for birthmarks, moles, or pigmented areas that are abnormal in texture, shape, size, or color.
Get in touch with Complete Women’s Healthcare now if you need to schedule your annual screenings.